May 1, 2015
Respect, as Aretha Franklin put it R-E-S-P-E-C-T
But what does it mean?
The concept may seem simple but it is not. The Talmud discuss it at length, Confucius discusses it. It means many things to many people.
If you demand too much respect or honor, the Talmud says, you will actually chase it away.
There is good respect and bad respect.
We see dictators and "celebs" (aren't they pretty much the same?) demanding respect.
Everything has to be exactly as they want it or else they explode and fire generals, or managers.
So what kind of respect is appropriate for a Krav Maga instructor?
A Krav Maga instructor falls under the category of a teacher, a most honorable profession.
Our rabbis teach us that if a person taught you only one verse, one sentence, you are obligated to honor him for the rest of your life.
This means that if you have learned anything of value from a person you must honor him as a teacher.
Does this happen with the martial arts? It should but it rarely does.
As students move up the ranks their egos and heads become inflated. Soon they break off from the organization, declare themselves grandmasters and open up a competing organization.
But what comes around goes around. They set the example for their own students.
Many years ago I attended a Karate seminar with a visiting instructor. At the end of the first day the local instructor, the host, asked if there was anyone with a car who would be willing to take our guest on a tour of Jerusalem.
I learned more from this causal time together than from the entire 3 days of training.
At the end of our day together I realized that I did not have enough time to go back to my house and get my karate gi (uniform). I had two options; go home and get my gi, but be late to the seminar, or, go directly to the seminar but without my karate gi.
I asked the grandmaster what I should do.
He replied that coming to the seminar on time was far more important than wearing the gi. I could train in whatever I had.
But wasn't it a lack of respect? I asked.
He replied that it was not. The greatest respect was showing up on time and training hard.
Important lesson learned, I never forgot that.
Respect is not always what it seems to be. It would appear that wearing a karate uniform shows great respect but he taught me that it is ones' attitude that matters; showing up on time, training hard. He understood why I did not have my uniform. The intent is what counts.
There are those that call me "Sir", there are those that call me "Master" there are those that call me "Maestro" and there are those that call me Moshe. All good and fine but there are things that are more important. Those are only the outer trappings, like the karate gi/uniform.
There are people that have called me Master but then treated me with the greatest disrespect. Suddenly I discovered that they were building themselves up as grandmasters and even taking other schools with them and forming new organizations. They never came to me and expressed any dissatisfaction.
Respect to me means that if you have an issue, a problem, a dilemma, you talk to me about it.
If you do not understand something that I did or said, talk to me!
It means before drawing your own conclusions, before making yourself judge and jury, talk to me.
My door is always open. Dialogue, communication, is a must before one decides that they have been wronged.
We are taught that God heard about the evils that man was doing, the Tower of Babel. In essence, man had decided to climb to the heavens and replace God as Grand Master. And then the Bible says..He went..He looked..He checked etc.
This means that even God, who is all-knowing, did not condemn man, did not jump to a conclusion, before thoroughly investigating for himself and seeing things first hand.
If God humbled himself so before man, how much more so must we humble ourselves before each other. Let us not judge each other before we understand. We must approach each other in person, talk, communicate, clarify, have a dialogue, before we arrive at any conclusion.
This is the ultimate respect.